My Fellow Cubbers:
Dennis asked me to put together a little set of instructions to help anyone who may need some help with pictures. I think most everyone already knows how to attach a picture to a message or set a picture as your avatar.
If all you need to do is set the size of your avatar or posted picture using IRFANVIEW, skip down to the header "How to Use IRFANVIEW". Go to line 16 and 17 and do your resizing. If you want to do a little more, then the rest of the list may be useful.
First letâ€™s assume you are taking a picture with a digital camera or you are having your film scanned and put on a CD. Now you have a digital file. What options do you now have and how can you make the most of your picture? Your picture will most like be saved inside the camera or CD as a file with an extension after the name, such as ABC123.jpg. This .jpg extension means that the file has been compressed to make the file size somewhat smaller. The bad thing is that during the compression process, some of the picture data is discarded and lost. Every time you resave that file, it gets compressed more and more and data is lost each time. What can you do to prevent this?
First, if your digital camera has the ability to save the file as a tif, or with a .tif extension after the file name, compression will not happen and no data will be lost. The bad news is that this creates a large file size.
If you have small memory cards in your camera, then you canâ€™t take as many pictures on that card without moving or deleting some of them. This brings us to the basic question of, what resolution and quality settings should I use when taking a picture with my digital camera. Some cameras wonâ€™t give you a choice, others will. You must now ask yourself, what do I want to do with the picture I am about to take. If you EVER think that you would want to make a nice print from the picture, then you need to set your camera to its highest resolution setting. Set the save options to .tif if you can. Set the quality to low or medium. For some reason, the quality settings just donâ€™t affect the final print all that much. If you only want to make a picture to display on a computer monitor, none of this matters. The lowest resolution settings, quality and file type will make a nice computer display. Remember, you can now forget about making a nice 8x10 inch print.
For now, we will assume that you want to take your picture in such a manner so you have all future options available. You have taken your masterpiece at the highest resolution, low to medium quality, tif format if possible, jpg if not.
Now transfer that picture to your computer and save it. Now would be a good time to give it a meaningful name, instead of the number assigned by the camera.
Here is the fun part. Dennis would like for avatars to be no larger that about 85 pixels on the long side of the picture. If you make your avatar significantly larger that that, you push all of the text for that thread over to the right and force everyone to use the horizontal scroll bar to read each message. We all want to keep Dennis happy, so we will discuss how to do that in a minute. Dennis would also like for attached pictures, that is, pictures that pop up as part of your message, to also be small enough so that scrolling to the right isnâ€™t necessary. The complete picture pops up quickly, even on a slow dial up connection and everyone can see the whole picture without scrolling. Iâ€™m guilty here, so I need to follow this request also.
How do we do that? We need some sort of photo manipulation software. Adobe Photoshop CS is the industry standard (about $600). Adobe Photoshop Elements Version 3 is almost as good and totally effective for anyone not in the publishing business (about $100). PS Elements comes bundled with some scanners, printers and cameras. JASC Paint Shop Pro is also very good, but still costs $$$. Now for the good part. There is a software package that will allow you to adjust the brightness, contrast, gamma, all the colors, adjust the sharpness, crop the image, resize it to fit the message board parameters and save it in a variety of file types, such as tif and jpg. The best part is that it is FREE and a quick download from the internet. Here is how to get it.
Go to http://www.irfanview.com/main_download_engl.htm
and download â€œIrfanviewâ€. It will come with the latest plugins. If you already have an older version, then download the plugins. Once downloaded follow the instructions, it will install itself, just take all the default settings. It will even make a red icon on your desktop.
HOW TO USE IRFANVIEW
Open the file you want to work on. Never make any changes to your original file. Make a copy and do all your work on the copy. If you mess up, just close your copy without saving it and open the copy again start all over. The following steps should be done in order to ensure the best final result. Skip any step that is not necessary.
1. Open the copy
2. Set the files to display thumbnails (little pictures) on the open window
3. Check the box â€œpreview active boxâ€. This gives a preview of the picture
4. Do a â€˜file save asâ€™
5. Rename the file if you want and then save it as a file type (tif) if not already a tif
6. Now highlight the file and click open, or double click on the file name
7. Use the + or â€“ tools at the top to make the picture the size you want (these plus and minus tools only effect what you see on your screen, not the actual file size
8. From the menu bar, select Image/Rotate, right or left or whatever if needed
9. Now back to Image/Enhance colors and adjust the brightness, contrast and gamma. As you move the sliders, you see the result. This window will also allow you to then adjust the color (note, your monitor needs to be accurately set for color and brightness before you adjust these picture parameters, or you may be messing up a good picture. I will discuss setting your monitor at the end. After adjusting whatever you want, click Apply and OK.
10. Now is a good time to save what you have. Because you have saved the file as a tif, you donâ€™t cause any damage when saving. Save and stop anytime you want and then come back and do more later if you want.
11. If you want to experiment, go to Image/ Effects and do whatever you want (optional)
12. Now go to Image/Sharpen. Each time you click on Image/ Sharpen, the picture gets a little sharper. You can see the affect each time. Be careful, you can sharpen too much. If you go too far, you can click on Edit/Undo and go back one step.
13. If you donâ€™t need all of the picture or there is something near the edge you donâ€™t like, or you just want a section of the picture, then you need to crop it. Do this by drawing a box around whatever you want to keep with your mouse. Just hold down the left key and make your box. You can stretch the sides wherever you want after you let go.
14. When the box is where you want it, go to Edit/Crop Selection
15. Now save the new cropped selection as a new file, with a new name and as a tif.
16. The last thing you need to do is size the image for the intended purpose. If you are making your avatar, then go to Image/Resize/Resample. Put a check in the box that says â€œPreserve Aspect Ratioâ€. Set the size to about 85 pixels for the long side of the picture. The short side will be set automatically, such as 85x65 pixels. Save the picture and put your dimensions in the file name such as: redcub85x65.tif. Now save it again with the same name, but change the file type to jpg. This is the file that you will use as your avatar.
17. For pictures that you want to attach to a message, do the same as above, but set the long side of the picture to about 800 pixels. Save as a tif, and also as a jpg. Use the jpg version for attaching to your message. The resulting file should be no larger than 35 to 50 KB in size. For a computer monitor, this is all you need.
To set your monitor brightness and contrast, do the following. If you can, set your color temperature to about 6500 degrees K. If your monitor doesn't have color temperature adjustment, then donâ€™t worry about it.
Now with a picture on the screen, turn your brightness and contrast all the way down till you donâ€™t have any picture at allâ€¦.totally black. Now turn your contrast up all the way to 100 percent. Now turn up your brightness till you like the look of the picture. You are now very close to optimum bright/contrast settings. Now go to the following site http://www.garageglamour.com/tips/calibrate.php
and fine tune your brightness and contrast till you see all the shade differences in the black and white bar. Other than using an electronic monitor adjustor, this is about all you can do. I surely hope this has been valuable. If anyone has any questions or has trouble, just email me and well work it out.
YD, Grover and Ole Malley
â€˜Keepers of the Flameâ€™
Last edited by Dennis on Mon Dec 22, 2003 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.